“We expected debate,” says Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette’s North American brand director, during a sit-down with CNN. He’s referring to the new Gillette commercial that has left everyone talking. He says of the ad, “It’s about men taking more action every day to set the best example for the next generation.”
The company, which sells razors and other grooming products, says in the ad, “We believe in the best in men.”
Sounds like a message everyone can get behind, right?
Apparently not in this day and age. The Gillette commercial — an unadulterated look at the ways toxic masculinity rears its head in modern society — has ginned up the ire of right-wing conservatives, a few tarnished talking heads (like the laughably irrelevant Piers Morgan) and men’s rights activists.
These groups are furious at the audacity of the new Gillette commercial, which references bullying, sexual harassment, the #MeToo movement and toxic masculinity. “Is this the best a man can get?” a disembodied voice asks, referencing the company’s longtime slogan.
The commercial contains footage of a man stopping his friend from harassing a woman on the street; of a father breaking up a fight between two young boys; of another father teaching his daughter the importance of self-respect; of Congressional testimony by actor Terry Crews in which he says, “Men need to hold other men accountable.”
Those are all great things, but for those who find themselves needlessly incensed by watching kindness on a screen, the Gillette commercial somehow translates to the emasculation of mankind.
In the words of Piers Morgan, Gillette “wants every man to take one of their razors and cut off his testicles.” Right-wing actor James Woods, washed-up game show host Chuck Woolery and “male supremacy” organization (and certified hate group) A Voice for Men have all vowed to boycott the brand following the ad.
Hilariously, the backlash against the ad and statements like Morgan’s are the ultimate irony. They are proof that an advertisement offering Gillette’s message is needed now more than ever.
Suffice it to say, these deeply angry right-wingers have missed the true objective of the Gillette commercial: reinforcing the idea, once and for all, that toxic masculinity and all its trappings — treating women like property who can be subjected to harassment and abuse, the use of violence to solve conflict, bullying people deemed ‘lesser than,’ mansplaining in the workplace — is a prison. And it’s a prison that is needlessly handed down to younger generations.
The new Gillette commercial encourages men to break the cycle and be better for these future generations. It’s the least we can do, and it’s “the best a man can get.”